Black nationalism advocates a racial definition (or redefinition) of national identity for black people. There are different indigenous nationalist philosophies but the principles of all black nationalist ideologies are unity and self-determination—that is, separation, or independence, from European society.
Black separatism and black supremacy are subtypes of black nationalism. Separatists seek a black-only state, while supremacists add ideas from social Darwinism to their ideology. Both subtypes generally avoid the term supremacy because it has negative connotations.
Critics have argued that ideas such as black pride and black nationalism exist to provide a sanitized public face for black supremacy, and that most black nationalist groups promote racial violence.
Norm R. Allen, Jr., former director of African Americans for Humanism, calls Black nationalism a “strange mixture of profound thought and patent nonsense”.
On the one hand, Reactionary Black Nationalists (RBNs) advocate self-love, self-respect, self-acceptance, self-help, pride, unity, and so forth – much like the right-wingers who promote “traditional family values.” But – also like the holier-than-thou right-wingers – RBNs promote bigotry, intolerance, hatred, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, pseudo-science, irrationality, dogmatic historical revisionism, violence, and so forth.
Allen further criticizes black nationalists’ strong “attraction for hardened prisoners and ex-cons”, their encouragement of black-on-black violence when African individuals or groups are branded as “housenegros,” “puppets”, “clever blacks” or “sellouts”, the blatantly sexist stance and the similarities to white supremacist ideologies:
Many RBNs routinely preach hate. Just as white supremacists have referred to African Americans as “devils,” so have many RBNs referred to whites. White supremacists have verbally attacked gays, as have RBNs. White supremacists embrace paranoid conspiracy theories, as do their African counterparts. Many white supremacists and RBNs consistently deny that they are preaching hate, and blame the mainstream media for misrepresenting them. (A striking exception is the NOI’s Khallid Muhammad, who, according to Gates, admitted in a taped speech titled “No Love for the Other Side,” “Never will I say I am not anti-Semitic. I pray that God will kill my enemy and take him off the face of the planet.”) Rather, they claim they are teaching “truth” and advocating the love of their own people, as though love of self and hatred of others are mutually exclusive positions. On the contrary, RBNs preach love of self and hatred of their enemies. (Indeed, it often seems that these groups are motivated more by hatred of their enemies than love of their people.)